GSA: From Reference to E-Resources
Hello! My name is Zorian Sasyk, and I’m a GSA here at the Purdy-Kresge Graduate Library at Wayne State. I’ve been in SLIS for just over a year and a half now, and am on track to graduate in August 2014. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the program so far, but I must emphasize the significance of the opportunity I’ve been given as a GSA. The things I have learned and experienced are often experiential parallels to ideas mentioned in SLIS coursework, and there are innumerable esoteric, “on-the-job” moments that one would never experience anywhere or anytime but in practice. Let me tell you about some of the myriad things I have done just in the last semester!
For the Fall 2013 semester, I have been working in the Discovery Services department of the library system, under the supervision of Elliot Polak, Amelia Mowry, and Rachael Clark. Generally, the projects I have been working on fall into two categories: electronic resource management and usability testing. Working chiefly with Amelia, I am working on or have finished a number of small to medium-sized projects in e-resource management. These include “click-throughs” (checking the URLs of a large list of small-vendor serials as well as recording their actual accessible content vs. our records), upgrading the date coverage of small-vendor serials within our electronic resource management system (Serial Solutions) and then our discovery layer (Ebscohost Discover System-EDS), and small metadata-based projects such as uploading XML-records into Fedora Commons and creating an XSD for ingestion of the Herman Miller Collection. Throughout all these projects I have also been writing documentation regarding their procedures and workflows.
In September, I worked with the Discovery Services librarians on planning and carrying out usability testing on two web-based applications developed in-house to improve the library website, Quick Search and Statistics Dashboard. This involved working with the librarians to write testing scripts, generating lists of search items to be used in the testing, and administering the tests themselves over a weeklong period. Since then, I have contributed to analyzing the results as well as discussing how to further improve testing procedures in the future.
The jobs I have been doing in E-Resource Management and Usability seem like a marked departure from the prototypical academic librarian description. In many ways they are. (Using VLOOKUPs in MS Excel to match two separate vendor-provided journal coverage lists by ISSN is most definitely a more involved process than Virtual Reference!) In reality, they touch upon many basic aspects and values of librarianship, from authority control and organization to user access. E-resource management affects what the user ultimately sees and can access; usability measures how well they can access it. What I do behind the scenes now directly influences what I did and could do at the reference desk. As we move deeper into the Digital Age, academic libraries continue to change and adapt. However, there is no abrupt break or disconnection with the past; librarianship in all its forms and transformations is a continuum.